Monday, April 16, 2007

The VA Tech Press Conference

[Posted by reader_iam]

Update: About the shooter's ethnicity. And I'll be following the 2nd press conference here.

My previous post on the Virginia Tech shooting had gotten a bit cumbersome with all of the updates, so I'm going to cover the press conference featuring the VA Tech University president here.

President Charles Steiger:

He has spoken with President Bush, and twice with the governor of Virginia, who has declared a state of emergency to enable access to additional resources.

" ... I'm really at a loss of words to explain or understand the carnage that has visited our campus ... "

It is now confirmed we have 31 deaths from Norris Hall, including gunman; 15 people are being treated for injuries.

Two confirmed deaths from the dormitory.

They are working to identify all of the victims and contacting next of kin. No names will be released until those tasks for done.

The gunman is unidentified--no identification on his body.

They are still investigating whether there is a connection between the first and second incidences. They have NOT decided that definitively.

**** Questions ****

[Answers from various people]

(Why not locked down after first shooting?)

--It had been determined it was an isolated incident.

--There was reason to think the shooter had left the campus. Information from witnesses and evidence at scene led officials to believe the shooter had more than likely left the campus.

--At this point, they don't know if the shooter at either incident is a student at the university or not. (Again, they have not determined if there is one or two shooters.)

(Security is being brought up) Vague-ish responses about open campus and challenges.


They are looking into whether there is any connection with bomb scares last week.


Two people were shot in the dorm room. Initial information provided to investigators seemed to indicate it was "domestic."


There was no shootout between officers and the shooter (at Norris Hall, in context). The officers entered the building (again, Norris Hall, in context) immediately upon arrival.


The dorm was shut down immediately after the shooting.


The shooter died inside Norris Hall.

The victims at Norris Hall were found in different locations.

Preliminary reports indicate that some doors were chained. [Later, "from inside" is specified.]

The speaker won't give information about shooter's age because they don't know who he is.


No one was arrested after either shooting.


Back to first shooting: They had information that led them to believe that the building was secure and the shooter had left the building. Other investigative agencies were contacted.


In response to a question as to whether they're actively seeking a suspect at the first shooting site: They are actively working the investigation to see if the two shootings are connected.


They can't confirm whether one of the victims at the first site was an RA.


Information is requested about process of contacting families. As victims are identified, the police are notified, families will be contacted and counseling will be available, and gatherings will be set up.


Lock-down policy is touched upon.

"With 11,000 people drivng into campus it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the information out [immediately]."


Question from a reporter: "How does Virginia Tech go forward? ... There's obviously going to be a 'new normal' here."

My comment: Really, what is the answer supposed to be? They're still in the thick of it.


There are teams of people interviewing people.

The police chief again cautions against assuming that the same shooter is responsible for both locations. He once again says he will provide no descriptive information of the shooter beyond gender.


They had sirens going out, they sent out e-mails, they utilized a telephone tree, and so forth. What sounds like a student questioner challenges that, or at least that it was done comprehensively and timely.


There will be increased security at the university tonight. Access has already been limited.


Academic buildings are open-access during the day and are locked at some point at night. Dorm buildings use swipe-access over night--probably go off around 7 a.m.

Norris Hall shootings started at approximately 9:40 a.m. (or that's when the call came in).


People keep asking for hindsight evalutions, a sort of debrief. It seems to me that it's too soon to do that well, or responsibly--but that's just me.


The police chief said there were a couple of people that jumped from windows. He didn't know whether there was faculty among the those killed.

A reporter asks for stories of students helping students, for some positive coverage. (This really came off as weird, btw.) The reply is that officials have been busy with investigations, identifications and etc., but that he's sure there probably were.


Someone asks at one point will the investigation be turned over from the campus police department to other agencies. The reply is that a number of agencies are providing resources (and that there are some representatives from them at the conference).


Another briefing scheduled for 7:30 (Eastern).

Added: I should note that Hot Air has a very comprehensive round up of events and coverage (broadcast and blogposts) today; I did not go over there earlier, but it would probably have saved me some time! I'm just one person, but they seem have had the resources to really pull it together.

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